The world is currently racked by tragedy. It’s everywhere.
In times like these, there’s a perfectly natural tendency for those in PR to think that softer story pitches, unrelated to ongoing tragedy, are a waste of time.
You might hear someone say, “The media don’t wanna hear about Good News Story X now, they’re focused on Japan. Our pitch will fall on deaf ears. Besides, the audience won’t care.”
While the moral sentiment underpinning this logic comes from a good place, it is misguided thinking.
A conversation I had with two media outlets in Brisbane, Australia (a region that has experience staggering troubles in recent months) a few nights ago drove this home loud and clear. Both radio and TV people underscored the fact that in tough times media outlets and their audiences NEED other content – stuff that IS, by design, a diversion that conjures warm feelings.
This means, you aren’t outta line sending someone a soft news pitch. People will still pay attention. They’re people. They NEED AND WANT to hear about light stuff and good news.
NO, not the immediate moment after something terrible happens, but in the not too distant future.
I agree with this sentiment but often times there are conflicting messages. Last Friday, which was a reasonable amount of time after the Japan quake, and which had been covered the entire day, CNN went with more live coverage of the event while MSNBC chose not to. The big story the next day was how CNN killed MSNBC in the ratings because they chose not to do even more Japan coverage.
I honestly think the 24-hour news cycle has ruined not only the way the news is reported, but also the way in which we consume it. I’m not sure we know what we want when it comes to stories like this. It’s often a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.